LUCKNOW: Yogi Adityanath, the controversial mascot of hardline Hindutva, will be the next chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, India’s largest state.
In a move that surprised many, the 44-year-old five-term MP from Gorakhpur was elected the BJP legislature party leader at a meeting of the newly elected MLAs, a week after BJP won a three-fourth majority in the key Hindi heartland state, making a comeback to power after 15 years.
State BJP chief Keshav Prasad Maurya, who was himself in contention for the top job, first announced Adityanath’s election.
Maurya, the MP from Phulpur in Allahabad, will be the Deputy Chief Minister apart from senior BJP leader and Lucknow Mayor Dinesh Sharma.
Later, addressing the media, Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu, who along with BJP general secretary Bhupendra Yadav was present at the meeting as central observer for the election, told a press conference that Adityanath’s name was proposed by Suresh Khanna, an 8-term MLA, and seconded by 10 others.
Naidu said even after the proposal was made, he asked the 312 newly elected MLAs if they wanted to propose anybody else for the post, but they all backed Adityanath unanimously.
Naidu said that the Yogi then said he needed two deputy CMs to assist him in the gigantic task, following which it was decided that Maurya and Sharma would hold the posts.
As the meeting was about to begin, an element of surprise gripped the venue when Adityanath reached Lok Bhawan opposite the imposing Assembly complex.
Midway through the meeting, Sharma was asked to attend the deliberations. Interestingly, none of the three is a legislator in Uttar Pradesh.
As soon as it was decided that the saffron-robed Gorakhpur MP will hold the reins of the state, party leaders and MLAs rushed to the dais with sweets and garlands.
Adityanath, considered a divisive political figure, enjoys considerable popularity in the state and is known to make provocative statements, be it about Islam or Pakistan.
His elevation as the Chief Minister of the volatile state would mark the culmination of an aggressive two-pronged election campaign by the BJP in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi talked about the party’s development agenda, but sundry leaders raked up the issue of Ram temple.
The campaign acquired communal overtones following Modi’s “Kabristan and Shmashan” remark at an election rally.
A strong votary of construction of the Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya, Adityanath drove BJP’s Hindutva campaign in the eastern UP in the just concluded Assembly polls.
The Yogi, who wears ‘Hindutva’ on his sleeve and has been accused of involvement in quite a few communal incidents in the past, wields considerable influence among the Hindu hardliners.
He is not known to enjoy good rapport with the BJP leadership and his elevation has left many puzzled, with political circles abuzz with talk of RSS having prevailed over the party in deciding the new chief minister.
Adityanath has rebelled against his party on several occasions, but because of the sway he holds over the ‘Hindu’ voters, the BJP apparently could not ignore his ‘leadership qualities’.
Naidu said, “This is a historic win. This is a watershed moment for BJP…BJP has become a common man’s party. UP message is very clear and it is that country wants to move with Modi.”
“Mandate is for development, mandate is against corruption, against black money…,” he said, with the Yogi by his side.
“This mandate is against caste politics, religious politics and vote bank politics,” he said, noting that all the five regions in UP and all communities had overwhelmingly voted for the saffron party.
If they take one Hindu girl, we will take 100 Muslims girls. The way Hindu girls are insulted, I don’t think a civilised society would accept it. One community is allowed to spread anarchy. If the government is not doing anything, then the Hindus will have to take matters into their own hands (report)
Hindus should take matters in their hands (Speech in parliament)
Adityanath desecrates a graveyard in UP village and his supporters fatally shoot a 26-year-old policeman in the face in 1999. (Tehelka)
Adityanath is said to have provoked over 20 incidents of communal violence. But there are only two criminal cases against him, one of which pertains to the killing of a gunman of a rival political leader from the Samajwadi Party at Maharajganj near Gorakhpur, in 1999. The second criminal case was registered when Adityanath and his Vahini laid siege to the town in January 2007, burning mosques, houses, buses and trains, claiming that the Gorakhnath temple had been attacked. Adityanath and 130 others were arrested on the spot. The District Magistrate, Hari Om, who ordered the arrests, was transferred out the next day. Today, the case lies cold and untouched. (Tehelka report in Feb, 2009)
“I will not stop till I turn UP and India into a Hindu rashtra,” says Adityanath. He does accept Muslim votes, but only after they have been “cleansed with Gangajal”. (Tehelka report in Feb, 2009)
Calling himself the next Narendra Modi, Adityanath has repeatedly threatened to turn Gorakhpur into Godhra and UP into Gujarat. Driving through Muslim-majority pockets like Azamgarh with sword-brandishing youth screaming his name, Adityanath unleashes the infamous firepower that has provoked massive Hindu-Muslim violence. While he swears he will “eliminate the Muslim population in UP”, he claims he has another plan for Christians. In October 2005, he led a ‘purification drive’ in the district of Etah, converting 1,800 Christians to Hinduism. Earlier that year, he had converted 5,000 Dalit Christians in the same district. (Tehelka report)
“Being Muslim — right. Being Muslim in India — wrong,” he says. “Terrorism — wrong. Hindus hitting back at Muslims for terrorism — right.” (Tehelka report)